Saturday, September 25, 2010

St. Louis, Missouri. The Arch.

St. Louis, Missouri. The Arch. Highlight of the St. Louis Riverfront.
Here's a sneak peak from downtown.
First, a little history about St. Louis. St. Louis, once the major gateway for pioneers on their westward trails, began as a marketplace. Furs and food were exchanged for goods from the East and Europe. The embodiment of this trade role was the city's Union Station - a continental crossroads of mammoth proportions which catered to some 300 trains and tens of thousands of passengers daily. Missouri has always provided an open door to adventure and has served as a starting point for great adventures, beginning with the trail blazed by Lewis and Clark to explore and map the Louisiana Territory. We're starting at the Gateway Arch - the symbol of our country's pioneering spirit and the tallest man-made monument in the National Park Service. Missouri's pioneering spirit does not just apply to those who ventured west. Missouri is more than a gateway out. It is also been a stepping stone up. Mark Twain based the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn on his own childhood in Hannibal. Walt Disney modeled the "Main Street USA" portion of Disneyland after his hometown of Marceline. George Washington Carver, a former slave from Diamond, used the knowledge that sprouted in his Missouri garden to revolutionize agriculture in the Southern United States, specifically Tuskegee, Alabama. My father was from Tuskegee and actually knew Mr. Carver. Ragtime composer Scott Joplin, rock and roller Chuck Berry, and jazz greats, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington, are just a few of the musical pioneers who started out in the clubs and bars of Kansas City and St. Louis. Missouri also produced its share of entrepreneurial visionaries. In 1860, a successful St. Louis businessman by the name of Eberhard Anheuser teamed up with his son-in-law, Adolphus Busche, to invest in a struggling local brewery. Anheuser-Busche, the world's largest brewery was created. In 1910, a Nebraska teenager, Joyce C. Hall, got off the train in Kansas City with an idea to sell picture postcards. His mail-order business evolved into a $3.5 billion corporation - Hallmark Cards. Here's my first impression of the Arch.
Established as a National Historic Site by Congress in 1935, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial commemorates the vision of Thomas Jefferson and the expansion of the United States west of the Mississippi River. Comprised of 91 acres, the Park includes: the Gateway Arch, designed by Eero Saarinen; the Old Courthouse, once the focus of governmental activity in St. Louis; and the Museum of Westward Expansion which interprets American's westward expansion during the 19th century.
The Gateway Arch was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1947. Construction began in 1963 and was completed in 1965. Standing 630 feet tall, it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. Commemorating the expansion of the United States in the 19th century, the Arch towers above the banks of the Mississippi River, where the original fur trading village of St. Louis once stood. The Old Courthouse, built between 1839 and 1862, originally served as the courthouse for St. Louis. It was transferred to National Park Service ownership in 1940. It now houses galleries on St. Louis history and the National Park's Administrative offices. The Old Courthouse was the site of the first two trials of the famous Dred Scott case. Now, more history about the architect, Eero Saarinen. Eero Saarinen was born in Finland in 1910 and was the son of Eliel, a noted and respected architect. At age 12, Saarinen took first place in a matchstick design contest, the first of many competitions he would win in his life. In 23, he immigrated to the US, studied at Yale School of Architecture, and after a two-year fellowship in Europe, returned to the US to becomes partners in his father's architectural firm. He began to build a reputation as an architect who refused to be constrained by any preconceived ideas. In 1947, he entered the architectural competition for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Having a chance to express his own architectural philosophy, Saarinen set out to design a monument not only to Thomas Jefferson and the nation, but also to the modern age. For him, the major concern was "... to create a monument which would have lasting significance and would be a landmark of our time... Neither an obelisk nor a rectangular box nor a dome seemed right on this site or for this purpose. But here, at the edge of the Mississippi River, a great arch did seem right." Saarinen considered his arch to be perfect in its form and its symbolism. The Gateway Arch marked the beginning of Saarinen's career just as "Gateway to the West" marked the beginning of a new life for countless pioneers. In both cases, the desire was to move boldly toward the future. Ultimately, the Arch is a monument to all those with a vision - Thomas Jefferson, the American pioneers, and Eero Saarinen. During a nationwide competition in 1947-1948, architect Eero Saarinen's inspired design for a 630-foot arch was chosen as the perfect monument to the spirit of Western pioneers. Construction began February 12,1963 and the last section of the arch was put into place October 28, 1965. Foundations were sunk 60 feet into the ground and the arch was built to withstand earthquakes and high winds. The arch can sway up to one inch in a 20-MPH wind and is built to sway up to 18 inches in 150 MPH winds. The usual sway is 1/2 inch. The weight of the Arch is 17,246 tons. 900 tons of stainless steel was used to build the Arch - more than any other project in history. The Arch itself was built at a cost of $15 million and the inside transport system cost $3.5 million. In order to insure that the constructed legs would meet, the margin of error for failure was 1/64th inch. Here's an interesting video showing part of the construction. All survey work was done at night to eliminate distortion caused by the sun's rays. All of this was made by using relatively crude instuments, since its construction was before computer technology. Structurally, the Arch is known as a catenary curve, the shape a free-hanging chain takes when held at both ends. This is considered the most structurally sound shape. The height of the arch is 630 feet - same as the span of the arch legs at base level. And for you mathematicians out there, here's the equation lying behind the construction of the arch:
Mathematical equation that lies  behind the construction of the Gateway Arch.
OK. I'm shutting up now. Enjoy my pictures.
This is the Old Courthouse, site of the Dred Scott case.
Lookout windows at the 630-foot summit.
Stay tuned for the views from the top.


Marilyn said...

Thanks for sharing your pictures of the arch, Rosie.

I had to be content with taking pictures from a moving car as my husband wouldn't stop.

Marion said...

Hmm, interesting, Rosie. I'd only seen it at night. Where do the Hawthornes go next?

Kathy said...

GREAT Arch pictures!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Marion, you'll just have to wait along with everyone else. Hint: We're already more than halfway across country. I have blog lag.